Patients dying because NHS ignores warnings from safety agency - report
• Poor response to 57 alerts on drug and surgery issues
• Minister says unsafe care will not be tolerated
Hospitals, mental health services and primary care trusts are killing and injuring patients by ignoring orders from an NHS regulator to improve the safety of treatment, a report alleges today.
Official records disclosed to the charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) show frequent non-compliance with alerts issued by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) to prevent health staff accidentally causing harm.
The report has sparked fresh concern about the priority given to safety in the NHS after a series of scandals involving hospitals and a critical report last year from the Commons health select committee.
AvMA used the Freedom of Information Act to find out which of the organisations across England had complied with the 57 alerts issued between 2004 and 2009, in an attempt to reduce mistakes involving drugs, surgery and other areas.
The Department of Health's reply revealed that by 7 June:
• More than 200 NHS organisations had failed to comply with between one and 23 of the 57 alerts;
• Twenty-nine NHS trusts – 11 of which were high-performing, semi-independent foundation trusts – had not implemented 10 or more alerts;
• There were 1,242 examples of alerts not adhered to by the NPSA's deadline;
• Dozens of care providers had not yet complied with two rapid response alerts, prompted by patients dying or suffering serious injury, which carry extra urgency. Some 116 had not implemented one on safe use of oxygen with patients, while 67 had still to put in place new arrangements recommended by NPSA experts to improve the safety of injectable medicines.
"It is impossible not to conclude that lives are being put at unnecessary risk, and it is likely that avoidable injuries or deaths are still being caused as a result of trusts not complying with patient safety alerts," said the report.
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